You may have purchased or looked at my book, My Samsung Galaxy Tab to get some guidance about what model of Galaxy Tab you want to buy: the Tab 7.0 or the Tab 10.1. (I didn't cover the Tab 8.9 model in this book, though you can visit the Samsung website at http://www.samsung.com to get more information.)
Determining the model that's right for you starts not with the device itself, but how you want to connect your Tab to the Internet.
First, determine whether you want to connect your Tab with a wireless carrier or whether you want to use your Tab only as a Wi-Fi device. This is important because only one wireless carrier lets you connect the Tab 10.1 to its network: Verizon.
On the other hand, Verizon does let you connect your Tab 10.1 to their 4G network if you're in an area that supports 4G.
If you don't want to use Verizon, but still want to use the Tab 10.1, you need to determine whether you'll have Wi-Fi connectivity where you'll use the Tab 10.1. By contrast, the Tab 7.0 is supported by a number of carriers including Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. And you can use the Tab 7.0 using just Wi-Fi, too.
So what if you want to use just Wi-Fi? After all, many public places such as coffee shops have free Wi-Fi available. However, that may not be the case at home, especially if you live in a rural area or small town (like me).
One option is to purchase a wireless router so you can connect your Tab to the Internet. If you go this route, you may also have to buy a wireless USB adapter for your desktop or laptop PC so you can connect your computer to the Internet wirelessly.
If you're running Windows 7 on your desktop or laptop, you can use the built-in Wi-Fi card[md]or purchase a wireless USB adapter[md]and use a virtual manager. I use the open source Virtual Router Manager (http://virtualrouter.codeplex.com/) if you want to try it out.
After you've decided how you want to connect to the Internet, it's time to figure out what model you want. The physical differences are easily apparent.
Samsung gives its smaller Tab the 7.0 designation because the diagonal width of the screen is 7 inches. The larger Tab 10.1 has a diagonal screen width of 10.1 inches. The Galaxy Tab 7.0 is also considerably thicker than the Tab 10.1: the Tab 7.0 is nearly one-half inch thick, and the Tab 10.1 is much slimmer at just over a third of an inch thick.
The thickness and size of each unit brings advantages and disadvantages. Though the Tab 7.0 is smaller and heavier, it feels more solid in the hand and it's easier to hold it when you're taking pictures or videos with the Tab's built-in camera.
The Tab 10.1 gives you more screen space and a lighter feel, but the grip may be uncertain and (or) you may need to hold the unit with both hands to keep it still.
An in-store experience may help you learn more about how the units feel in your hands and get you used to how both models approach usability. The default Tab 7.0 orientation is vertical. You can tell not only because of the orientation of the text on the back of the unit but also because the unit's control buttons appear below the screen.
The Tab 10.1 default orientation is horizontal. Like the Tab 7.0, the orientation of the text on the back of the Tab 10.1 gives the default orientation away. You need that orientation on the back of the unit because the front of the unit doesn't have any buttons for reasons I'll explain later.
You'll also need to know how much memory you want. Samsung sells the Tab 7.0 with only 16GB of memory, but you can also expand the memory to 32GB by inserting a 16MB Micro SD card into the Tab's Micro SD card slot on the side of the unit.
The Micro SD card slot makes it easy for you to store information, remove the card, and insert the card onto another device such as a laptop.
The Tab 10.1 doesn't have a Micro SD card slot[md]you can either buy a 16GB or 32GB model. That's it. If you want to copy files from your Tab 10.1 to your computer, you can use the USB cable that comes with the Tab. (You don't have to use the Micro SD card on your Tab 7.0 if you don't want to; you can use the USB cable that comes with the Tab 7.0.)
When you turn each unit on, you'll notice that the screens on the Tab 7.0 and on the Tab 10.1 look different. If you peeked inside My Samsung Galaxy Tab already, you know that the Tab 7.0 and Tab 10.1 run two different versions of Google's Android operating system.
The Tab 7.0 runs Android 2.2, called Froyo, and the Tab 10.1 runs Android 3.1, called Honeycomb. (You may have Android 3.2 installed because the new version of Honeycomb was made available for the Tab 10.1 just as I completed this article.) There are several different Android versions running on different devices in the Android ecosphere, so the fact that the Tab 7.0 runs a version of Android with a lower version number doesn't mean it's old. It just means it has different functionality and a different look that's best for the Tab you're using.
The Tab 7.0 rotates the screen when you rotate the unit. That is, when you rotate the unit 90 degrees then you'll see the screen in horizontal mode so you can continue to work. (Unfortunately, the control buttons don't rotate with it, but this is a minor inconvenience.) The Tab 10.1 doesn't rotate automatically, but you can change this by tapping the time at the lower right corner of the screen in the black status bar and then tapping Auto-rotation. When you rotate the screen 90 degrees, then the screen will appear in vertical mode.
Speaking of the status bar, it appears at the bottom of the Tab 10.1 screen. This takes up some real estate on the screen, but it provides some additional functionality that you don't get with the Tab 7.0. For example, you can tap an icon to see all open windows, and you can also tap the up arrow to view hidden applications such as the calendar and calculator.
Both the Tab 7.0 and Tab 10.1 have icons that you can tap to access pages that you may use most often. You can view the entire list of apps by tapping Applications in the Tab 7.0 Home screen or Apps in the Tab 10.1 Home screen. If you're at a store, you may want to scroll through the list of apps to see what apps are preloaded on each Tab model.
If there's an app that you're looking for, you can either access the Market on your Tab by tapping the Market icon or you can view the Market on the Web at https://market.android.com/. A future article will review the top 10 free and paid apps you should consider downloading.
These two models aren't the end of the story. As of this writing, Samsung recently introduced the Galaxy Tab 8.9, Samsung's "in between" model that allows you to connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi only.
And Samsung was getting ready to release the Tab 7.0 Plus, a thinner Tab that runs Android 3.2 Honeycomb, has 32GB of memory, and includes several hardware improvements. Things can and will change with all the Tab models, so check the Samsung website regularly for the latest information.